Readers rejoice! As of New Year’s Day, library users in Ireland are no longer being charged fines for overdue books.
The scrapping of the fines is part of a national strategy intended to encourage more people to use libraries.
“The overall aim is to increase active library membership from 16% of the population to 30% by end-2022,” Rural and Community Development Minister Michael Ring said when the policy was announced last year.
Fines have been shown to reduce library use by children and disadvantaged people, according to the strategy.
Instead of being fined, people with overdue books will be sent reminders to return them, the news website RTE reported. Their membership will be blocked until they return the books if they haven’t done so before a third reminder is sent, it said.
The Irish Times reported that dozens of libraries are also being upgraded, using nearly €5 million in public funding.
Brendan Teeling, a librarian in Dublin, was quoted by the newspaper as saying that libraries are welcoming spaces where everyone should be able to access information and reflect.
“We invite everyone to visit their local library during January and see for themselves all that is on offer there, completely free,” he reportedly told the paper.
“We can promise that a resolution to use your library more is one you will find very easy to keep throughout the year.”